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Monday, September 26, 2022
The independent student publication of The Unversity at Buffalo, since 1950

"Yes, It's My Real Name"

"Is that your real name?" "Were you named after the real one?" "Please don't bite my ears off!" and "I bet you get a lot of comments on your name" top the list of reactions I get when people learn my name.

The question as to whether it is indeed my real name tops the list. I am always tempted to quip something along the lines of "Yes, I changed my name to seem like a has-been-psychotic-ear-biting boxer who is also a convicted rapist."

I'm not entirely certain as to why there is a possibility that I would not be using my real name when it sounds like a real one. If I introduced myself as Windex Nintendo or Blinking Light, then I could understand the question, but the fact that one notorious celebrity shares the same first and last name as I do does not seem a good enough reason.

As to whether I was named after the "real one," I don't know where to start. Yes, the boxer/rapist is 11 years older than I am, but he certainly was not making headlines by the time I was born. The first part of this question is becoming more understandable as I get older, but when I was in fourth grade and he was just becoming famous, I wanted to knock out people that asked me this. Ironic, I know.

The other part of this question, which calls into doubt my own reality, is really infuriating. Our celebrity-obsessed culture has become so enamored with anyone that has the least amount of fame that they are actually given an extra amount of reality. This is a rather existential point that only people with the same names as celebrities can appreciate.

"I bet you get a lot of comments" is actually the number one response. It just doesn't irk me as much as the others. It does seem to be the most sympathetic response, and I don't really mind it so much, it just amazes me how often completely different people come up with the same sentence, almost word for word.

The most bizarre reaction to my name, in my opinion, is people who are surprised that I am white. I understand their misconception, I suppose, but it still seems odd that someone would assume I am black simply because the boxer that shares my name is.

I've met other people with famous names as well. One guy I know is named Chris Brown, which was uncomfortable for him for a little while with the whole partner abuse scandal, but that seems to have blown over a little bit, and somehow, his seems like a more common name.

It is really a detriment to people in my position to have their names associated with such infamy. I plan on entering a career where my name is the first thing that people see. If they think of the boxer, I fear their preconceptions will blur my work. It is because of this that I now go by Michael and am taking steps to change my last name.

This has been a real dilemma to me in my life because it is the name I have always had, it is my tie to my family, and it is my main source of identification. Unfortunately, it has been corrupted, and I must sever myself from it in order to have a better future.

There are times I wish that my name had the anonymity of most names, or, at worst, had a positive spin. But I guess it could always be worse, like Charlie Sheen, Karl Rove, or Hosni Mubarak.

E-mail: michal.tyson@ubspectrum.com

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